The Story of Christmas: Part I

It is the time of advent; Christmas is just around the corner. As we prepare for the festivities, let us not forget why we celebrate.

Susan Van Volkenburgh Books

The angel Gabriel appears to the virgin Mary in 1898′s ‘The Annunciation’ by Pennsylvania artist Henry Ossawa Tanner

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses of these happenings. (Luke 1:1-2) For as with one, death entered into the world, so too with One, life was returned. (Romans 5:12) It is upon these events that all our hope rests.

Over two thousand years have passed since these accounts took place, in the distant land of Judea. Yet these occurrences have changed the course of all life upon the face of the earth. For it was upon this night that hope returned to a fallen race, destined for destruction.

The night was cool and fair. Shadows were cast about the room as the moon rose to meet the starlit sky. A gentle breeze…

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When Life Changed

The Sitting Room with Kathy ChieroI had the pleasure of being on The Sitting Room with Kathy Chiero this past Sunday.

Go to http://sittingroomradio.com/ for the audio of this show.

A Dreadful Day – For those of us who remember that September morning also recall the pain, sadness and hopelessness that clouded a nation. Thousands died and the victims’ families were forced to begin a journey that none of them wanted to take.

Susan-CROPKathy welcomes into The Sitting Room, Susan Van Volkenburgh, author of the book, “Silent Resolve and the God Who Let Me Down: (A 9/11 Story)” to recount her journey. On September 11, 2001 at 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 plummeted into the Pentagon, taking the lives of 184 innocent people. One of them was Susan’s father, Stanley R. Hall. At that moment, everything changed for Susan. Everything she knew, everything she ever believed in, came crashing down. Her life began to unravel. This ten-year journey through the desert, through a land where God was silent, was a time of trial and of spiritual awakening. Could faith endure in the face of so great a loss, so large a betrayal? Transcending the events of September 11, this spiritual odyssey moves through the mire of grief and loss, to question the very motives and promises of God.

40 THINGS I’VE LEARNED

– from on overstretched mom who is trying to do it all

Like so many people today, I want to do it all. Yet time and energy always seem to be in short supply. Even so, I tarry on, trying to accomplish everything. Along the way, I have made a few discoveries. I share them here with you today. Read and enjoy, for we mustn’t take life too seriously.

1) Things take time.DCIM101MEDIA

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

2) You cannot get it all done in one day. It is okay at times to put off today what you can do tomorrow. If tomorrow doesn’t come, well, you won’t care anyway.

3) You cannot be everything for everybody

– but you can try.

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13

4) Slow down or you will trip yourself.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

1 Corinthians 10:12

5) When you fall, laugh at yourself, then pick yourself up and continue on your way. There may be snacks!

He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15

6) If you wait until you have time, you will never accomplish anything.

“Just do it!” – Nike

7) Set reasonable and achievable goals otherwise you will always feel like a failure.

8) A load a day keeps the dirty laundry away.

9) Don’t forget to enjoy the process.

A merry heart does good, like medicine,

But a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22

10) Don’t become discouraged.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9

11)  Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

            “I will either find a way or make one.” Hannibal of Carthage

12) Every now and then, stop to smell the roses; let the wind blow through you hair.

13) Take time for yourself every day.

14) If you don’t like something in your life, don’t complain. Do what you can to change it.

15) Some assembly is required.

16) Read the directions before you begin.

17) Don’t let disappointment throw you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

18) Don’t neglect your relationships

– with your children, your spouse, and especially God.

19) If God is not a part of the equation, you will not succeed

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

20) Genius really is in the detail.

21) Breathe.

22) It is okay to begin again.

23) Always shine your kitchen sink. It sets the stage for the rest of the day.

24) Ask for help – allow the people in your life to receive a blessing by serving you.

For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. Luke 22:27

25) Your family could care less what you’ve done all day as long as there are goodies in the pantry.

26) Take care of yourself – eat right and get enough rest.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

27) Slow and steady wins the race.The Tortoise and the Hare

28) Never, ever leave a single piece of paper on the kitchen counter unattended. When you are not looking, it will be fruitful and multiply.

29) Lean not on your own strength; if God calls you, He will equip you.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

…make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:21

30) Always error on the side of generosity

– don’t be afraid to give a part of you away

31) Always smile.

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance,

But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. Proverbs 15:13

32) Allow enough time

– things always take longer than you think so plan accordingly.

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33) Don’t be afraid to draw on the walls

34) If you don’t make your bed, neither will your children.

35) Don’t wait for others to begin. Just go for it or you may find you never get started.

36) The early bird really does get the worm.

37) All things do not come to stay, they come to pass…

See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Matthew 24:6

38) Find a lesson in every situation and nothing is wasted.

39) Sometimes just be still and take it all in. For it is in quiet contemplation that we can see the face of God.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

40) Know when to stop talking.

I often regret that I have spoken; never that I have been silent. Publilius Syrus

I am still working on this one. I could go on with this list forever. It is already much longer than I first planned. So with this last lesson, I will grow quiet and let you, the reader, say your piece. I would love to hear from you. In the comment section, feel free to add your life lessons to this list.

Wishing you the best in your busy life. God bless you in all your pursuits.

~Susan

The Piddle Theory ~

So much to do, so little time…a common complaint among us all. I have always struggled to balance everything in my life, often with disappointment. Much of what I desired to accomplish had been put off until I had enough time to throw myself into it, which really means I accomplished nothing. That is, until I came up with this idea….

I call it my Piddle Theory.

Piddle (adj.) – very small. ex:  A piddle of time

Time

healingdream

In this harried world, it is hard to slow down, to change our mindset from the fast and furious to the slow and steady. But that is exactly what I did.

“Slow and steady wins the race.”

The Tortoise and the Hare – Aesop

The Tortoise and the Hare

To proceed with consistency and patience, though progress may be slow, will eventually produce more benefit than the hasty rush and careless furry to just get something done.

                Good things take time.

J. R. R. Tolkien spent fifteen years writing the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. As a professor at Oxford, he complained that his life often interfered with his writing. He did not have enough time to throw himself into the writing.

Tolkien

What if he had waited until he had time? We never would have been blessed with this great and inspired epic.

The Lord of the Rings

The Piddle Theory – to spend brief moments in time working toward a long term goal

Here are some examples of what I have accomplished utilizing the Piddle Theory.

Map of Middle Earth

Spending twenty to thirty minutes a day for six or seven months, I painted this mural of Middle Earth upon my office wall. If I had waited until I had enough time to work solidly on this project, it never would have been accomplished.

Trilogy of Kings: the Anointed One

Every morning for four years, I have spent one hour writing this novel. I have over 400 pages so far. Though I wish I had more time each day to work on it, I would never have had the opportunity to write if I had waited for the time.

Whatever it is that you are hoping to achieve, if you are waiting until you have time, you will never fulfill your goals. Do not wait to accomplish your ambitions or to experience your life. There will never be enough time to do everything you desire. Simply start doing, in small increments of time, and see what you can accomplish.

~ Susan

Hard Pressed ~

Dr Joseph Valks

 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;  perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned;  struck down, but not destroyed.”

~ 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9

Life has a way of becoming overwhelming. As Shakespeare writes in Hamlet, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions,” so life tends to buffet us on every side.  How easy it is for us to lose ourselves within the midst of our troubles.

Sorrows and struggles engulf us as we try to walk our path in this world. Waves of disappointment crash over us, causing us to lose our footing, casting us down. But as a wrestler who has been thrown to the mat, we too can push ourselves once more upon our feet.

As I read the Apostle Paul’s words, I was roused as a soldier before battle. Even though we are hard pressed, even though we are confused, persecuted and struck down by the slings and arrows of this world, we need not be overthrown. As the battles of this world rage, we have a support, we have a hope. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4: 17) So then as a runner within a race, we must fix our eyes upon the goal, never forgetting why we run. And beside us, the Master keeps our pace, encouraging and supporting us as we press on toward the finish line.

As the waves of life threaten to overtake you, keep your eyes upon Jesus. But know this, that if you begin to sink within the turbulent sea, He is there, reaching for you. Look up and grasp His hand and He will pull you to safety.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

~2 Corinthians 4:18

~Living History

Michal Marcol, digital artist

How can one live history? For if history is an account of events that have occurred in the past, how can one actually live history? For those of us that really enjoy studying the past, living-books enwrap us in the arms of past events, transporting us into a world that is beyond the scope of our present reality. The term ‘living-book’ was coined by the great British educator Charlotte Mason (1842–1923). She envisioned an education, with interest and emotion, which spoke directly to the child.

Historical fiction are living-books. It tells a story placed in the past. Events and settings are real, drawn from history in which the spirit, manners, and social conditions of persons and events are captured. Historical fiction provides a medium that is entertaining as well as rich in education. How better to identify with a time and place than to be wrapped in the events of a beloved character in whom we can relate? When we make that emotional connection to a character in a book, we are better able to remember the facts and events that are often presented as dry information in history text books.

The series, Trilogy of Kings, is such a story. It is a historical fiction that will enrapt the reader in a thrilling adventure that is based on true events. Guaranteed to entertain as well as educate, follow the three kings of Israel as they face the personal and spiritual struggles common to the human condition.

~ Susan

A Writer’s Desire…

 “The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish.” 

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

With great effort I labor, putting my words to paper, hoping to create an emotional response in my readers. How lovely to be drawn away from our own world and enter into a world wholly foreign and new. To be swept away into a climatic vision that brings forth a new feeling, or a fresh idea. But putting together a story in not an easy task. It is often with sweat and tears that the ideas form and the words take shape.  

It is of great interest to me how writing a simple description can take so much thought and effort. How can one small paragraph take so many days, even weeks of preparation, yet when it finally comes together, is takes but a few moments?  The act of writing can be likened to pulling a molar firmly planted within the jaw. With great effort it is tugged and yanked before finally it is suddenly extracted.

Samuel Johnson stated that “what is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” So then it is the responsibility of the writer to draw out of himself the very being of his soul in order to delight the reader as the author directs the journey placed before his audience. So hold on and come away with me as we journey together through the pages of my books.

~ Happy reading…..

Susan